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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

Inner Richness + The Peace of Giving One’s Gold Away

Good day! September is such a glorious month. One of my favorites. Everything seems golden.

On a recent camping trip in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and a morning drive up Mill Creek Canyon today, and even just around the city, I find golden flowers, honey colored aspen leaves just beginning to turn, and even the green trees illuminated by almost-equinox light all give off that warm glow of gold. Goldenrod blooms in our front yard.

I’ve had a line from one of Mary Oliver’s poems running through my mind this week, inspired by all this beauty.

“the pure peace of giving one’s gold away.”

Wouldn’t that be a powerful orientation to bring to life?

One of my favorite Dharma books is called It’s Up to You by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.

Here’s a passage I’ve been thinking of during this golden week of early September:

“Inherent Richness

A thick wallet and savings in the bank don’t necessarily make us feel rich. Many incredibly wealthy people feel impoverished at heart. We can spend a lifetime working hard to change our material circumstances, but without inner richness, the sense of poverty and dissatisfaction never goes away. People with richness in their hearts don’t depend on having the perfect outer circumstances or an abundance of material goods. They may have great appreciation for conventional riches and situations of power, but they also have a very subtle and grounded sense of richness within.

This inherent richness is called yün in Tibetan. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche explains that everything depends on its own particular yün: men and women, for example, have their own yün complete within them. That inner yün magnetizes the yün of outer things. When our inner yün connects with the yün of the phenomenal world, we feel rich – much richer than most wealthy people – even with very little money in our wallet. Likewise, even with very little status or power, we feel much more powerful than many people in powerful positions. And even if we’re not especially beautiful, we feel more beautiful than many people pictured on the covers of fashion magazines. How can this be?

This state of mind arises from the spaciousness and richness of our basic nature. Meditating on the nature of mind creates more space in our mind. There is more room to experience our human emotions, and more room to let the ego-mind dissolve. Within this openness we discover endless potential.

Richness and meaning don’t lie outside of us. And life is not just about “what can I get?” or “what don’t I have?” When we open up to the richness of experience, we are less fearful and more able to enjoy life to the fullest. We appreciate the beauty of our world and everything we encounter. With this unrestricted mind of richness, even a beggar on the street can feel like a universal monarch.

To the extent that we recognize our inner richness, we will have a tremendous sense of security that we can trust in any situation. Knowing that we can depend on ourself brings contentment and joy. Whatever arises in our life – good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable – is enjoyable. I hope that every one of us can at least glimpse this experience. Then we won’t get so stuck in the hardships of our pick-and-choose world.”

Somehow, there’s something in the light of September and the color of gold shining all around that reminds me of this inherent richness. The richness of being alive, aware, able to recognize and appreciate this precious moment of life.

And here’s Mary’s poem.

Goldenrod

On roadsides,
in fall fields,
in rumpy bunches,
saffron and orange and pale gold,

in little towers,
soft as mash,
sneeze-bringers and seed-bearers,
full of bees sand yellow beads and perfect flowerlets

and orange butterflies.
I don’t suppose
much notice comes of it, except for honey,
and how it heartens the heart with its

blank blaze.
I don’t suppose anything loves it, except, perhaps,
the rocky voids
filled by its dumb dazzle.

For myself,
I was just passing by, when the wind flared
and the blossoms rustled,
and the glittering pandemonium

leaned on me.
I was just minding my own business
when I found myself on their straw hillsides,
citron and butter-colored,

and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives
full of dark hours?
And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far,

that is better than these light-filled bodies?
All day
on their airy backbones
they toss in the wind,

they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one’s gold away.

As my teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche likes to say,

“Why not be happy without reason?” :)

Wishing you a golden day,

Erin

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